I love the way a physical book feels the way a book smells when you have a physical book in their hand. There are few things better than a great book. I agree with Lewis who said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” As much as I enjoy a physical book there are some books that are just easier to read and resource on the kindle. Likewise, there are some books that you have to listen to on audio because they are just that good. I would go so far as to say that you really should listen to these audiobooks rather than read the physical copy.
Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi – This book is the powerful recounting of the story of a Muslim looking for Allah and seeking truth and God in his mercy broke into his world and revealed himself to Nabeel in supernatural ways. The narration of the Book was by Nabeel himself it was a powerful story of conversion but why you should listen rather than read is hearing the emotion in Nabeel’s voice as he recounts the cost of following Christ as someone who grew up in a Muslim home. The cost was his family but the price was worth it. Such a powerful book you must listen to rather than read.
The Four Loves – By C.S. Lewis – Why would you not read a physical book by C.S. Lewis and listen to the audio instead? Well, when it’s the only recording of Lewis reading his own book. It’s, s to hear the voice of Lewis. A rare treat that you will thank me for later. Skip the book and go for the audio.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – There is something about an author reading their own book they do a much better job conveying what they wrote but also the intangible emotions they felt when they wrote what they wrote. David and Goliath was a powerful book about the power of underdogs. In this book, Gladwell is at his best. I rarely cry reading books. The end of this book was one of the exceptions. Powerful. Much more power by audio than by the book.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a classic that is a must read. The audio recording was done by Sissy Spacek and was excellent and engaging. People often argue what is better the book or the movie I say neither the audio book was better.
This year I wasn’t sure how many books I would be able to read other than the books I had to read for Seminary. So to maximize my time I tried to remove time killers like I Netflix and the increasingly painful to watch cable news. I went with my strategy of having a physical book, an audiobook and a kindle book I am always reading at the same time. This year I read more old books than I have ever before. Some of that was for school part of that was because I believe that the crazier things get in the evangelical world the more we are going to need the voices of those who have been there and done that already. What orthodox believers need to comfort themselves with is not politics but the reality there is no new heresy, there is no new theologically liberal idea that someone hasn’t thought of already. You don’t know this unless you read old books. Like every year I encourage you to pick up an old book.
I haven’t read a parenting book in a while so when this one came out I jumped on it. Sandra and I actually have been using this for a small group we are doing with some friends. Tripp’s opening salvo states that parenting is primarily about confession. The whole book is framed around the idea that we need God’s help as much as our kids. Such a crucial read for every parent. We are going to be using it again this spring for our next small group.
Raising kids in today’s world doesn’t happen by parents hoping for the best, it happens because of relentless effort and relentless trust. We trust God but we also have to put in the effort to help our kids not just know the Bible but to allow the Bible to frame their thinking. Lewis says it brilliantly this way “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” This is one of those books it helps you see everything through the lens of the gospel over the lens of your gut instinct which is always wrong. If you have children anywhere near middle school buy this book.
For those of you who are looking for presents for next Christmas or want to spend the Amazon gift cards, you got for Christmas here are the ten best books I read in 2016 and why you should read them too.
Confessions – St. Augustine Confessions is a Christian Classic and rightfully so. What is so profound about the book is that it is an autobiography from a giant of the Christian faith written in the form of a prayer. It is the story of a restless soul because of disordered love. How a restless heart found it’s home in Christ. Beautiful, timeless and life-giving. A must read at some point in every Christian journey.
The Call to Joy and Pain. – Ajith Fernando This book was a book that came into our home at the perfect time. Every year we as a church family read four books together that tie into our pastor’s messages for the year. This was one of those books. It was not just a book that my wife and I read out of obligation to our church community it was profoundly helpful as we walked through the joy and pains of cancer. It is by far one of the best books I have read on the topic of suffering in the Christian life and the pastoral vocation.
The Rule of Love – JV Fesko The Rule of Love is a deceivingly small book. I read this in preparation for writing our VBS curriculum which was centered around the Ten Commandments. Fesko brings the Decalog to life in such a way that you are convicted afresh by each command. You see each command in ways you have never seen them before. JV doesn’t just leave you there wounded and bleeding he follows each command with the all-surpassing beauty of Christ that moved me to worship time and time again.
You Are What You Love – James K. A. Smith Many books have recently been written about worldview. These books are valuable, and I thank God that they have been written because their value in a post-Christian America should only increase. What Dr. Smith has done in his Book You Are What You Love is complete the picture that the worldview arguments begin. So many worldview books are written from a rationalistic point of view. Smith writes this book to say our worldview matters but what matters most is what do you love. He says we are first and foremost lovers. And he is right. For all you Family Pastor’s out there he has a couple of chapters on teaching kids and raising kids that are killer. Such a great book.
The Psalms of Jesus – Tim Keller I am not sure that I have read a better devotional in my life. Keller’s devotional on the Psalms came at the perfect time as my wife, and I walked through this devotional daily as we faced the task of walking through cancer treatment a day at a time. I found David and Keller the perfect companions for a journey that had good days and awful days but in both days a never changing sovereign God who never let go.
Christianity and Liberalism – J Gresham Machen This book was written in 1923 and read like it was written in 2015. The Liberalism that invaded the Mainlines in the early twentieth century has invaded much of evangelicalism as a whole in the twenty-first century. Machen’s diagnosis is powerful and more relevant that you could imagine. It serves as encouragement and warning to the church today.
The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson This is a book I will read again. It is the Autobiography of Eugene Peterson the pastor and author of The Message translation of the Bible. It was not at all what I was expecting in all the best ways you could imagine. His approach to the scriptures, church, and to life, in general, was mystical yet theologically grounded in the scriptures. Out of all the books, I read this year this one challenged more presuppositions and spoke to me in a language I needed to hear from a pastor I have come to respect because he just wants to be just a pastor in a world that is telling pastors they need to be relevant, famous and efficient.
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr I read this book because of the considerable hype by everyone online. It did not disappoint. It was a beautifully written historical novel set in World War II. I was a story of sacrificial love and hope that was well worth every moment.
Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle As a parent, this may be one of the more important books you can read. It is all about how do we reclaim conversation in a world that is increasingly nonverbal and overly electronic. Technology is not going away, and we need to be better at understanding and to leverage it in raising our digitally native kids so that technology enhances their world rather than destroying it.
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis C.S. Lewis has a way of making extremely complicated truth understandable. His down to earth orthodoxy makes him so unique that his books even though they are half a century old they are completely relevant and not difficult to read. If you can only read one book by Lewis, I would say it should be this one. Mere Christianity is the cornerstone of Lewis’ view of the Christian faith and life in general. For those who are new to the Christian faith, it is formative for those who have been a Christian for a while it provides much-needed language in which to communicate your faith to others.
One of the things that I found as a leader that if you want to continue to grow you need to read books, and not just any book you need to read good books. The problem I have found is there are so many books out there many are great some not so great. A good book should feel like a conversation. Books give you the ability to have a conversation with people you will likely never meet. Great books do that. One of the best strategies I have found to find a good book then read the books by the people they recommend and quote often. Here is a list of 12 good books to get you started.
Total truth was a brilliant call “to awakening evangelical Christians to the need for a Christian “worldview,” which Pearcey defines as “a biblical informed perspective on all reality. I found this book to be foundational in how we see the world through the lens of the gospel. This book is a must read for every kid heading off to college and any youth pastor who works with high school or college age kids. The final section on the flaws in the evangelical church I found both helpful and intriguing.
I have long been a fan of PeterDrucker. I have read “The Effective Executive” Numerous times. One things I felt was lacking from Drucker’s work and others like him. That was the purpose for productive living and working.Perman does an amazing job connecting practical ways to get things done to an underlying theological framework. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan on reading it again soon.
I have read a couple of books by Jones and have enjoyed them. I was intrigued by Proof before I read it because from the index you could tell they were tackling the 5 points of Calvinism from a standpoint of grace rather than a forced acronym. Thoroughly enjoyed the book as they portrayed the Grace of God in such a profound way I found myself worshiping and filled with wonder as I read the pages of this book. This book is a must read for anyone who leans toward Calvinism. I don’t often cry when I read a book but there is a story Jones tells of his daughter that moved me to tears. Such a powerful picture of us belonging to God. It’s worth the purchase of the book for that story alone.
This is one of those books that every Christan needs to read as they will encounter pain and loss at some point in their journey. Kellers treatment of suffering does all of us a favor as he so poignantly deals with suffering in such a way that it keeps us from being either trite or melodramatic when addressing the others in pain. Kellers brilliance lies in pointing to our ultimate hope which is Christ. Each chapter ends with areal life story of suffering that I found very hard to read as each one caused my heart to both wrench and rejoice at God’s goodness even if unseen. This book and “A grief observed by Lewis are the best books I have read thus far on the problem of human suffering.
If you have been a follower of my blog for any period of time you will know that I am a huge fan of Catechism. The Good News We Almost Forgot is a weekly devotional that I read as a book because each chapter was so good I couldn’t wait a week. DeYoung brilliantly,pastorally, and devotionally dives into each of the Lord’s Days as laid out by the Heidelberg Catechism. I found myself convicted regularly and sitting there after reading a chapter in an attitude of worship.The relevance of the theology in a 400 year old document is astounding.
Bad Religion was a paradox because it was difficult to read and hard to put down. Douthat argues that “America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as
many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.” I found it insightful enjoyed the fact that Douthat as a catholic had a great perspective on evangelical and catholic follies alike.
I first read this book over 20 years ago in bible college. I read it again this year. Reading the same book 20 years later is interesting. Of all the books I read this year this book hit me hardest. I have been a “full-time shepherd” for nearly 18 years I find that I have become a pretty good Shepherd and at the same time a not so good sheep. As pastors we must not forget that we are sheep first shepherds second. This book does just that. Loved the insight the devotional feel and the loving truths that this book contains.
As a christian if you have not been asked what you believe about the issue of homosexuals and homosexual marriage yet, you will. What are you going to say? When someone you love invites you to a same-sex marriage ceremony what are you going to do? When you as a christian leader are interviewed by a reporter they will ask what you think. What are you going to say. Barr and Citleu offer an amazingly practical and pastoral book that will help you speak the truth in love. As christian we need to be loving but we can’t allow our desireto be loving to derail us from truth.
J.I. Packer is brilliant. I love his high view of both God and Scripture. In his classic he talks about God’s role in salvation and how we cooperate with God in preaching the gospel. It is a classic on evangelism and should be read by all.
I love Pipers passion. I enjoyed this book because he tapped into a passion of mine. That passion is for Pastors to be Pastors rather than savvy CEO’s. The business culture that has crept into the church has helped pastors be better leaders which has some value to be sure. But at what cost? That cost I would say is the erosion of the care of people, the dependence on Holy Spirit. In the United States we have turned the office of pastor into a profession rather than a calling. We need strong leaders in the pastorate but the price the church is paying for that leadership is far too steep and doesn’t honor God. I loved how Piper passionately calls pastors and leaders to the things that matter most. If you are a pastor I beg you to read this book. I pray that it will convict you as much as it convicted me.